Travelers’ Films: The Island President
When it comes to travel, I often gently remind myself that I have plenty of time to see the world. But what happens when a destination is literally disappearing as I type these words?
The Maldives is a nation comprising 1,192 islands in the Indian Ocean. It’s known as a playground for the rich and famous, with picturesque white-sand beaches, abundant palm trees and stunning sunsets. For decades, this country has faced political turmoil, and it continues to face a future of uncertainty–not just because of its recent political upheaval, but also because global warming is sending it underwater, and fast. It’s only a matter of time before these islands, with an average elevation of 1.5 meters above sea level, are submerged and lost forever.
If carbon emissions continue as they do today, the Maldives will be gone in as little as seven years.
The Island President is a documentary following former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed and his fight against climate change. The documentary does a great job of conveying the island’s tumultuous history and resilience, as well as Nasheed’s lifelong fight for democracy in his country. The film traces his fight against climate change at the 2009 global climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen. The viewer seems to feel the weight of an island nation borne by its president, whose primary goal in office is to save his homeland and his people as they slowly slip into the sea.
It’s clearly an uphill battle that some might call futile, as Nasheed conducts talks with nations such as China, India and the U.S., pleading for a significant decrease in carbon emissions. Overall, The Island President paints an honest picture of the climate crisis, and it gives viewers a real, personal example of the effects of climate change.
As a traveler, it can be difficult to fathom that such a beautiful, pristine destination may soon be gone forever. As much of a treasure the Maldives is to the world traveler, it’s exponentially more valuable to the people who call it home, and who will be displaced when the islands are no longer sustainable.
What do you think about the issue of global warming and how it affects such small, unstable countries? Do you think the sacrifice in decreasing carbon emissions in large nations such as the U.S., China, India and Brazil is worth it?
Photo source: a screen shot from the film, The Island President.